Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Terminator (1984)

The Terminator was my introduction to bootstrap paradoxes.  It was the first time that an action was caused by another action that subsequently necessitated the first action.  If John Connor hadn’t been born, he wouldn’t have led the resistance that took down the machines.  That victory caused the machines to go back in time to kill Sarah Connor before John Connor was born, meaning that Kyle Reese is sent back in time to not only protect John Connor, but to ensure he exists in the first place.  Yes, the correct decision would have been to just kill Kyle Reese or to not go back at all.

I’d elaborate on the story, but there’s not much to add.  Humans handed over the world to machines, who took that power and tried to kill the humans.  When the humans won, time travel was the last-ditch effort.  The movie is about two humans trying to survive against a nearly unstoppable machine.  The result is that Sarah Connor knows what’s coming and is able to prepare herself and her unborn child.

Sarah becomes a great reluctant hero.  The future of humanity literally hinges on her being convinced that the end is coming.  She has to protect and train our future leader. (Kyle Reese has the ultimate Cassandra complex, which he passes on to Sarah Connor to exhibit in the second movie.)

It’s interesting that The Terminator became so well known.  By today’s standards, the effects are kind of basic.  (In fact, the reason the sequel took so long to be released was due to the necessary effects not having been invented yet.)  Even Arnold Schwarzenegger’s catch phrase, “I’ll be back” was just some random throwaway line.

I did notice a few clichés, such as detailed records not existing in the future.  It occurs to me that a computer network that has access to all manner of files should have been better able to keep records.  It must have been embarrassing that no backups were kept nor were any printouts made.

Also, there’s the adversary that can mimic anyone, meaning you can’t trust the person at the other end of the phone.  So, what does Sarah do?  She calls the Terminator and gives away her location.  You’d think a machine designed to track someone would just use conventional tracking methods.  Yes, it’s easier just to ask.  Still…

Of course, there’s the one cliché common to all of the Terminator movies, in that a hopelessly outmatched hero takes on and defeats an incredible villain.  No matter what Kyle throws at The Terminator, he keeps coming.  It takes heavy machinery to eventually stop the onslaught.  (This, of course, brings us to the second movie’s bootstrap paradox:  Skynet was based off of technology that it would eventually send back into the past.)

It is nice to know that the franchise is still going strong, with another movie on the way.  It’s hard to believe that the franchise spans so man decades. Consider that in another ten years, we’ll be in the future where Skynet was dominating.

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